Returnees to Kosovo tell their stories

The Dimic family returned to Strazhë/Straža village in Novobërdë/Novobrdo Municipality in June 2013.

According to UNHCR, more than 200,000 IDPs from Kosovo are still displaced in Serbia. Some of them have found ways to build a life there, but others are waiting to return. Often families lack the means to return on their own or face difficult conditions once they come back to Kosovo; houses that were destroyed or have become uninhabitable due to years of neglect, limited income generation opportunities and lack of documentation. 

Through the BPRM-funded project ‘Reintegration and Community Stabilization Kosovo’, 26 families returning to Kosovo from Serbia will receive assistance to rebuild their lives and livelihoods in Kosovo. Read about three families' experiences of returning to Kosovo and trying to make a fresh start.

Danish Refugee Council in partnership with the LNGO Center for Peace and Tolerance, addresses returnee families’ most important socio-economic reintegration needs and supports receiving communities and local authorities to create conditions conducive to sustainable return.

The project is co-funded by BPRM and the Ministry for Communities and Return.

Additional beneficiary families selected for return to Nenkalaja/Podkaljaja, Prizren

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The Project Steering Committee meeting of the Sustainable Return to Nenkalaja/Podkaljaja project was held in the Ministry for Communities and Return on 4 March 2014. DRC Kosovo presented 19 cases identified in collaboration with Sveti Spas and DRC Serbia, and the committee selected 8 families who fit the MCR criteria.

Read more on the website of the Ministry for Communities and Return.

 

The Ministry for Communities and Return steps up efforts to help returnee families build a sustainable future in Kosovo

 Minister for Communities and Return Dalibor Jevtic and DRC Country Representative Kristen Stec sign  new agreement  

Minister for Communities and Return Dalibor Jevtic and DRC Country Representative Kristen Stec sign new agreement 

The Ministry of Communities and Return pledges financial support in the amount of 115,000 EUR to aid beneficiary families of the Reintegration and Community Stabilization in Kosovo project funded by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (BPRM) and implemented by DRC Kosovo.

On 5 March, Minister for Communities and Return Dalibor Jevtic and  DRC Country Representative Kristen Stec signed a new agreement which strengthens the established cooperation between MCR and DRC under the framework of the BPRM-funded project Reintegration and Community Stabilization in Kosovo.

DRC welcomes the continued support provided by MCR to enable the reintegration of spontaneous and assisted returnees to Kosovo. MCR’s commitment will secure the provision of needs-based harmonized return packages and income generation grants to families returned from displacement.  For beneficiaries like the Dimic family, such support makes a vital contribution to their successful reintegration. The Dimic family and their five children returned to Kosovo in June 2013. Through the BPRM project, DRC was able to repair the family’s house in Strazhë/Straža village, Novobërdë/Novobrdo municipality and provide food and non-food items and furniture. Given the scarcity of employment where they live, the family depends on agriculture to make a living. With their income-generation grant, the family therefore added livestock to their stable and once conditions allow, they will start cultivating their land again.

MCR’s financial contribution will enable additional beneficiary families to receive similar support in their effort to build sustainable livelihoods in Kosovo.

 The Dimic family in front of their stable 

The Dimic family in front of their stable 

The BPRM-funded project Reintegration and Community Stabilization in Kosovo will support at least 26 families returning to Kosovo from Serbia and their wider communities. DRC, in partnership with LNGO Center for Peace and Tolerance, will employ an integrated response to returns and reintegration.

Austrian Development Agency supports returnee families in Kosovo

On 15 September 2013, Danish Refugee Council (DRC) began implementing a one-year BPRM-funded project that will support at least 26 families returning to Kosovo from Serbia and their wider communities.

Christian Geosits, Head of ADA Office, Kosovo and Kristen Stec, DRC Country Representative sign agreement

DRC is happy to announce that the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the operational unit of the Austrian Development Cooperation, will support the return and reintegration of returnee families.

With this contribution from ADA, DRC will be able to provide three families that will be returned this year with income generation grants and needs-based harmonized return packages in line with MCR’s guidelines on return.

The families are in the process of being selected. Minor shelter repairs for these families should start in October 2013 and be finalized in November 2013.

 

 

 

DRC, in partnership with LNGO Center for Peace and Tolerance, will employ an integrated response to returns and reintegration. The project activities are divided into three complementary and inter-related components that will address the most important socio-economic reintegration needs and aim to reduce isolation of returnees using a rapid and flexible approach. The project is implemented in partnership with the Ministry for Communities and Return and respective municipalities. DRC signed a MoU with MCR on 25 September 2013 that outlines the cooperation.

Read more about the Reintegration and Community Stabilization in Kosovo Project 

 

DRC starts Community Stabilization Project

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From 1 June 2013, DRC will provide sustainable socio-economic support for at least 20 minority businesses and implement at least 2 projects to improve relations between inter-ethnic communities.

Co-financed by the British Embassy and the Ministry for Community and Return, the 9-month Community Stabilization project will support the Kosovo government’s IDP returns programme and promote integration and reconciliation between ethnic communities in northern Kosovo.

Evidence shows that some of the main barriers to the stabilization of minority communities in Kosovo are a lack of viable livelihood options, especially in rural areas, and economic isolation.

In addition, returnees and minorities face social isolation due to limited contact and connections with the majority populations, which can further increase inter-ethnic tensions.

Therefore the project is designed to combat both economic and social isolation in close cooperation with central and local authorities.

The project will:

  • Support at least 20 minority small business start-ups, producers, processors and traders with economic grants and start-up assistance to improve their livelihoods.
  • Implement at least 2 small scale community projects to improve inter-ethnic contact and relationships.

The project design is based on DRC’s many years of experience in supporting minority community stability in Kosovo. Moreover, DRC has proven experience in creating synergies between such economic interventions and social components in its community stabilization projects.

Using the lessons learned from previous stabilization interventions, DRC will go beyond simply providing fixed amounts of material assistance packages to beneficiaries. Interventions will be strategic and designed together with beneficiaries, local communities and/or relevant authorities. Special focus will be placed on providing technical assistance and business advisory support, including support on business registration as needed.

Furthermore, priority will be given to businesses that can provide benefits to the wider community, not just the individual business (i.e. supporting short-term/long-term employment opportunities to members to the community).

The proposed economic and social capacity building and inter-ethnic stabilization components will prepare returnee and minority communities and businesses to better withstand potential tensions or adverse economic conditions in the future.

Sustainable return to Nenkalaja / Podkaljaja on track

 
 June 2013 Project Steering Committee meeting of the Sustainable Return to Nenkalaja/Podkaljaja project      

June 2013 Project Steering Committee meeting of the Sustainable Return to Nenkalaja/Podkaljaja project

  

The Project Steering Committee meeting of the Sustainable Return to Nenkalaja/Podkaljaja project was held in the Ministry for Communities and Return on 18 June 2013.

Participants included the HE Minister of MSR, Mr. Dalibor Jevtic along with other MCR representatives; British Embassy representatives, Mr. Dominic Hyadn Braithwaite and Mrs. Miranda Shala, UNHCR, DRC Implementing Partner Sveti Spas from Belgrade as well as DRC staff.

Mr. Jevtic also used the opportunity to thank the British Embassy in Kosovo and all other parties who are part of the implementation of the "Nenkalaja/Podkalaja" project. He went on to add that the Ministry for Communities and Return is fully dedicated not only to the current process of return to Prizren town, but also to supporting the continuation of the process. 

Petrit Bllaca, DRC Project Coordinator, briefed the participants about the progress of the Sustainable Return to Nenkalaja / Podkaljaja project. Currently nine houses are under construction and work on the tenth one is about to start. DRC is in constant contact with the beneficiaries,’ Petrit Bllaca told the participants, ‘since they are part of the monitoring of the construction of their own houses.' Furthermore, DRC presented information on the integrated Community Development projects and highlighted cases of assisting receiving community families. To date, DRC has received three projects and two individual cases.

The  project  is  co-financed  by  the  British  Embassy  and  the  Ministry  of Communities and Returns.  Mr.Dominic Hyadn Braithwaite from the British Embassy, Belgrade expressed his satisfaction with the work so far and the positive collaboration between the parties involved.

The final comment on the meeting was made by HE Dalibor Jevtic who raised the education issue of the returnees. He said that this should be our priority. Education, health care and employment, in addition to the construction of houses, need to receive adequate attention and must be part of the return package for the displaced. Therefore, the Ministry should plan a budget for education and health.

He concluded by noting that Prizren has always been an exemplary case and that we are very happy to have started with Prizren as an example for other cities.

Read more about the project here

Watch the documentary: Environment protection in Roma Mahalla

This short film documents the activities of a community Environment Protection project carried out in Roma Mahalla, Mitrovicë/a in 2012. The film shows the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities’ efforts to improve their environment by organizing clean-up days, building a park and educating the community about recycling, garden maintenance and environment protection in general. Workshops and activities for children, women and men were implemented in partnership with Caritas Kosovo, Danish Refugee Council and the RAE LNGO Ardhmeria RAE.

Today, Roma Mahalla is home to around 300 Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian families and is located in the southern part of Mitrovicë/a town, south of the river Ibar.

Before the conflict around 7000 to 8000 Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians lived there. In summer 1999, all inhabitants of Roma Mahalla fled to Northern Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro, and Western Europe where they lived in lead-contaminated camps for the following 8 years.

In 2005 a political agreement was reached between the Mitrovicë/a Municipality, OSCE, UNHCR, and UNMIK to allow and support the return to Roma Mahalla. The reconstruction of Roma Mahalla officially began in April 2006 with the foundations being laid for two apartment blocks on municipal land, implemented by NCA, followed by the reconstruction of 54 houses on private land, implemented by the Danish Refugee Council.

With the support of the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the European Agency for Reconstruction (EAR), DRC facilitated the return of 48 families to Roma Mahalla in 2007, most of whom have continued to rebuild their lives there. Roma Mahalla is one of the most challenging return sites in Kosovo, as it is the first significant return project in Mitrovicë/a and the first large-scale urban return of a minority group. DRC’s work with the community in Roma Mahalla continues and today focuses on economic development and community development measures.

 

More families to return to Prizren

Beneficiary house marked for reconstruction, Prizren

Following the success of the first round of returns, DRC Kosovo is in the process of re-building the homes of another 13 families and preparing for their social and economic reintegration into the local community.

With this urban return project DRC, its beneficiaries and partners contribute to create  a  multi-ethnic  Kosovo, support  the  Kosovo  government’s  IDP  returns programme  and promote  integration  and  reconciliation between  ethnic  communities  in  northern  Kosovo.  

The  project  is  co-financed  by  the  British  Embassy  and  the  Ministry  of Communities and Returns. The project is being implemented by the Danish Refugee Council and its partner Sveti Spas.  

Read more about the project